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Baby Sussex is here and he has a name, a CDC report on preventable pregnancy-related complications and a primer on Georgia and Alabama’s new abortion bills.
Are abortions outlawed in Alabama? Could miscarriages lead to women being jailed? No, and no, but misconceptions and misinformation have grown rampant since abortion legislation in Alabama and Georgia ascended in the news cycle last week. In Georgia, the governor signed a “heartbeat bill” into law on Tuesday, which will ban abortions after a doctor is able to detect “a fetal heartbeat in the womb,” usually around six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. The bill could launch a court battle that supporters hope will make its way to the Supreme Court.
Alabama’s Senate postponed its vote on a near-total abortion ban. Under the proposed bill, doctors would not be able to perform the procedure once a fetus is “in utero.” Since Tuesday, fear has spread, information has been misconstrued and criminal penalties have been misstated.
Here are the facts. Neither Alabama’s proposed ban nor Georgia’s abortion law is currently in effect. The Georgia law is scheduled to become enforceable in 2020, though “everyone in America expects it will be challenged in court before then,” Mary Ziegler, professor at Florida State University College of Law, told The Washington Post. Alabama’s proposed bill explicitly states that women are exempt from criminal and civil liability. Instead, the law targets doctors, who can be prosecuted for performing an abortion, a felony punishable by up to 99 years imprisonment.
Georgia’s law is more complex. On Tuesday, Slate published an article with a not-entirely-accurate headline: “Georgia just criminalized abortion. Women who terminate their pregnancies would receive life in prison.” That is incorrect. The bill could not be used to successfully prosecute women, Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, told The Post. But if a woman had a miscarriage, she could be pulled into an investigation looking at whether someone performed an illegal abortion on her.
A year ago, on May 7, 2018, the New Yorker published an article in which four women alleged that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had physically abused them. One of the women to tell her story was Tanya Selvaratnam. The 47-year-old author, film producer and actor recently spoke with The Washington Post about what life was like leading up to the publication of that story, and her experience since — including being torn about going public, what it was like to meet Schneiderman’s other exes, and the messages she received after the publication of the story.
Selvaratnam doesn’t regret coming forward, she told writer Marin Cogan; she only regrets getting into the relationship with Schneiderman in the first place. “But I feel like, somehow, the universe meant for me to be in that position. To end the cycle,” she said.
In India, high-profile cases of alleged sexual harassment are revealing the limits of the country’s #MeToo movement, which took off on social media last year. The country’s legal system has been struggling to address certain complaints, including that of a woman who alleged that India’s chief justice, Ranjan Gogoi, had sexually harassed her, which he denied. Last week, a court found that there was no substance to the woman’s allegations.
And M.J. Akbar, a government minister who denies allegations of sexual harassment and rape, has filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who was one of the first women to accuse him of harassment. If Akbar wins the case, Ramani could be jailed for two years.
In 2015, Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, was taken into custody in Texas after a traffic stop. She was found hanging in her jail cell in an apparent suicide three days later. A 39-second video, which surfaced for the first time publicly last week in an investigative report, shows the confrontational traffic stop that led to her arrest. In the video, recorded by Bland on her cellphone, officer Brian Encinia angrily threatens her with a stun gun.
The video renewed calls for an investigation into Bland’s arrest and death. Cannon Lambert, a lawyer who represents the Bland family, told the New York Times that the video undercut Encinia’s claim that he feared for his safety as he approached Bland’s car.
After much anticipation, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, first showed their son to the world Wednesday and, shortly after introducing him to the queen, announced his name: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The Sussexes revealed Archie’s name to the public on their Instagram account, accompanying a photo of Meghan showing Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, standing beside them. Archie’s page on the royal family’s website doesn’t mention any historical inspiration for the name.
At Harry and Meghan’s first public appearance with Archie on Wednesday, inside St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, Harry said that the couple was “so thrilled to have our own little bundle of joy,” and Meghan said that she’s got “the two best guys in the world.”
Hundreds of U.S. women die each year from pregnancy-related complications, including cardiovascular conditions and infections, according to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While there were many contributing factors to these deaths, researchers confirmed that racial disparities exist: Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women were about three times as likely as white women to die of pregnancy-related issues, they found.
In about 60 percent of the cases, the CDC found, the deaths could have been prevented with proper medical access and intervention. About a third of the women died weeks or months after delivery, up to a year after their babies were born. Researchers recommended a wide-ranging approach to reduce pregnancy-related deaths, including reducing social inequities and ensuring quality care for all pregnant and postpartum women.
• “Wine Country,” a new film released Friday on Netflix, was directed by Amy Poehler and taps into the inner lives of middle-aged women and enduring adult friendships. The movie follows a group of friends traveling to Napa Valley to celebrate the 50th birthday of Rebecca (Rachel Dratch). The cast includes Poehler, Dratch, Paula Pell, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer and co-writer Liz Cackowski — women who spent years together in the trenches of “Saturday Night Live.”
• Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. women’s national soccer team became the first openly gay woman to pose for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. She told SI that she thinks it’s a bold statement on their part “because it has been seen as sort of this magazine only for heterosexual males.”
“Ladies, We Need to Talk,” a podcast produced for Australian Broadcasting Corporation, tackles taboo topics that women rarely talk about, from infidelity to miscarriage. The podcast — which is hosted and produced by a team of women — received 2.2 million downloads over its first two seasons. Last month, it launched Season 3.
The show is hosted by Yumi Stynes, who says one of her favorite topics from Season 2 was about foreplay. Here are the topics that the team of producers enjoyed exploring last season:
Justine Kelly, executive producer: “‘Perimenopause.’ Menopause is spoken about a lot, but perimenopause is unknown for many women and it lasts for years. … We spoke to lots of women about their experience of perimenopause. As a woman on the cusp of perimenopause, their attitude spoke to me.”
Madeleine Genner, supervising producer: “‘The pelvic flaw in all of us.’ One in four women experience pelvic floor problems, which can lead to incontinence or even organ prolapse. I was brave enough to visit a pelvic floor physiotherapist for this episode, who showed me that I had been doing my pelvic floor exercises incorrectly — and that I’m not the only one.”
Cassandra Steeth, producer: “‘The secret life of hormones.’ As a woman who has always struggled with hormonal sensitivity, I was really interested to look at the way our hormones can influence whether you’re anxious, depressed or foggy-brained. In this episode, psychiatrists and endocrinologists gave us fascinating insights into what role our reproductive hormones have on our lives.”
My partner and I just purchased a stunning, 5-foot Norfolk Island pine tree (Araucaria heterophylla) for our apartment. We’d been pining, no pun intended, for one of these statuesque trees (which can live indoors or outdoors) for ages. These aren’t true pines — they’re evergreens — and they’re low-maintenance, which is great news for someone like me: a plant lover, but by no means a plant expert. You can buy Norfolk Island pines online through vendors like Bloomscape or Home Depot. Or, you may find one in a local plant shop; we scooped up ours at Little Leaf in Washington, D.C.
—Nneka McGuire, Lily multiplatform editor